How Do I Keep My Printer Clean?

Keeping your printer clean is essential to having a well functioning machine. Following these guidelines should help keep your printer clean, and keep all the moving parts working smoothly. If your printer looks like any of the pictures below...it's time for a clean-up!

Filament Debris

Filament debris can build up beneath the bed and in general around the inside of the printer--it can be the remnants of a failed print, or a collection little priming blobs. It might be tempting to spray a little canned air inside to clear it all away, but that's not our first recommendation. Spraying the inside of the printer with canned air is likely to just cause the debris to rise up and attach itself to some of the well lubricated parts, like the rods or Z-shaft, and potentially cause problems for the moving parts.

Instead, we recommend either using a small vacuum attachment to vacuum up the debris, or gathering it up with a paper towel or cloth to throw it away. You can also use painters tape to pick up the debris.

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Cleaning the Bowden Tube

If there is ground up filament in your bowden tube, it's important to clear it out. This most often happens if your filament has become ground down during a failed print, but it can also occur sometimes during normal printing. It's important to clean the bowden tube so that ground up filament doesn't impede the movement of your printing filament, or become burnt in the nozzle. Unload the filament from your printer before you begin.

1. Slide the horseshoe shaped clip out from your feeder and printhead. On Ultimaker 3/Ultimaker 3 Extended printers the clip is white; all other models have a blue clip.

2. Push down on the white collet while pulling up on the bowden tube to unseat it from the feeder and printhead.

3. Take a small piece of paper towel and push it into the end of the bowden tube. Use a piece of filament to push the paper towel all the way through the tube by hand. Reseat the bowden tube in the feeder and printhead. To make sure the bowden tube is seated all the way back in your printhead, make sure you cannot see the marks from the collet. Then slide the horseshoe shaped clip back into position.

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Cleaning the Feeder

If there's a large piece of filament stuck in the feeder, you may be able to remove it by relieving the tension on the feeder. For an Ultimaker 3 series or Ultimaker 2+ series printer with the white feeder box, raise the lever on the side of the feeder. For an Ultimaker 2 or Ultimaker 2 Extended use a screwdriver or similar to adjust the white lever in the black plastic feeder box.

For ground up debris visible in the feeder, remove the bowden tube and and spray the feeder with canned air.

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To remove the bowden tube, slide the horseshoe shaped clip out sideways and press down on the white collet while pulling up on the bowden tube tube; it's important to remove the tube from the feeder before spraying it, that way you aren't putting additional debris into the tube.

If there still appears to be debris in the feeder after spraying it clear and relieving the tension, follow these instructions carefully for whichever model printer you have:

 

Cleaning the Z-Axis

The Z-screw is one of the most precise moving parts parts of your printer. It's critical to keep it clean, otherwise you might get bulges on your prints due to the bed not being able to move evenly up the screw. The Z-screw in the photo below has hair, filament, and paper debris stuck to it, all of which would result in uneven movement of the Z-axis and defects on your print. 

To clean the Z-screw, use a cloth or paper towel to wipe out the threads of the Z-screw. It is not necessary to disassemble any part of the printer for this process. If you'd like, you can use a little rubbing alcohol on the cloth or towel. After the Z-screw is clean, make sure to lubricate it with the green Magnalube grease that came with your printer.

If the Z-shafts appear dirty or feel grimy, wipe them down with a cloth or paper towel. If they feel sticky, you may want to put a little rubbing alcohol on the paper towel. Then, lubricate them them with a couple of drops sewing machine oil. Do not use the green Magnalube on the shafts, it will gum up the bearings and prevent the bed from moving smoothly.

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Cleaning the XY Axes

Like the Z-axis, your XY axes are susceptible to the build up of dust and debris. Because it's important to keep the XY axes well oiled with sewing machine oil, this does provide a surface that dust, hair, or dirt might stick to, as seen in the photos below. Build up of debris most often occurs on the ends of the rods, but it can also accumulate on the bearings in the printhead as well.

Wipe the rods down with a cloth or paper towel to clean them. If they feel gummy, you can use a little rubbing alcohol. Then, lubricate them them with a couple of drops sewing machine oil. It's important to maintain both the 4 perimeter rods that the sliding blocks ride, as well as the 2 thinner printhead shafts that pass through the printhead.

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Filament "Hairs" in the Fan (Ultimaker 3/Ultimaker 3 Extended only)

Sometimes, very fine "hairs" of filament can appear in the front fan of the Ultimaker 3 or Ultimaker 3 Extended. If enough of these hairs are trapped there, the fan can stop spinning. If you catch it quickly enough, removing the filament hairs should keep the fan functioning normally. If it takes a while to notice and the printer prints for too long with the front fan unable to spin, then the fan could burn itself out. If this happens, please contact support.

To remove the filament hairs and clean the fan, we recommend plucking the filament hairs out with a pair of tweezers.

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